With so many fabulous places on virtually every corner of the city (even the dodgy ones), it would seem wasteful of me to go to one place four times over the course of five consecutive visits to New York. Yet, as soon as my brother mentioned Eatery, I immediately began nodding my head in enthusiastic approval. It was where I secretly wanted to go too.
It might have been nice to go to Balthazar or some other Zagat-rated, Chowhound/Yelp-adored brunching and lunching spot, but there was something incredibly comforting about going some place familiar and steeped with so many fond memories for both my brother and me. It was the first place he took me for brunch on my first visit to NY three years ago. It was the first place we went as a family when we took the red-eye out from SoCal to spend Christmas with him in the city. And it was the place where he and I went two years ago, the day after his 28th birthday when he was nursing a much stronger hangover than the mild aggreviation we were experiencing this past Sunday.
It was special to go back there with him and his friend Jamie this past weekend -- not just because Eatery knows how to knock out a palate-pleasing corn flake crusted French toast with orange marmalade, fresh berries and cinnamon syrup; and a crackified version of mac & cheese, heaped with crunchy frizzled onions for optimal texture contrast; but because it felt normal to be there. And it felt like we were being "locals" -- a tag that clearly doesn't belong to me, and no longer belongs to my brother either now that he resides in Phoenix.
It was supremely comforting to see the same lackluster complimentary coffee cake arrive at our table moments after being seated -- the same coffee cake that we still always end of eating, inspite of its mediocrity. It was equally comforting for me to sip the same Pickwick green lemon tea that I'd sipped on my other visits to the restaurant, and to debate over the same menu items I always debate over. Ultimately, I chose to bypass the essential French toast (my brother's selection) for Steven's special daily frittata with grilled chicken, tomatoes, zucchini, and goat cheese ($10), and an order of the Buckwheat pancakes with honey-pecan butter, fresh berries and maple syrup ($9) to split with Jamie, who opted for the aforementioned Mac & Jack ($12).
As we satisfied our post-reveling hunger pains with our grand spread of carbs, eggs, mac & cheese, and Mimosas, I felt perfectly content with my brother's restaurant choice. While the food is fairly standard for mid-day brunching nosh (ie. warm, filling and tasty), the restaurant is more than standard.
Eatery is noteworthy in my mind because it makes me feel at home in New York -- like I belong there and could spend many a weekend eating and regretting eating that darn coffee cake amuse bouche. In a city that can be alienating for both visitors and residents alike, it's a pretty remarkable thing. Especially for a pink skirt-wearing blonde girl who hails from "the OC."